Advantages of Analogue: Vintage Television Revisited

Happy New Year! I hope you had an enjoyable time over Christmas? Mine was somewhat quieter than expected… mainly due to the lack of a television signal. I’m sure there are many advantages of communal living, but sharing a satellite dish doesn’t seem to be one of them. I didn’t necessarily want to burden you with yet more of my technical difficulties. However, it does seem curiously pertinent, as I was planning to write a post about analogue-inspired design.

It does seem that everything has become inordinately complex. Back in the day when televisions were housed in polished teak boxes, with twiddly Bakelite buttons, getting a good signal was simply a case of re-positioning the aerial (which could account for lower obesity levels back then). Even when aerials were installed on rooftops, they rarely ceased to function altogether.

Now most of the UK has already gone digital, analogue is being gradually phased out (supposedly by October, 2012). But I’m not sure if this procedure explains why my lack of a signal meant that I couldn’t even view terrestrial channels? It seems we’re being left totally at the mercy of machinery like Freeview/Sky boxes and satellite dishes – plus pushy service providers, urging us to upgrade (as the latest technology rapidly becomes obsolete). All I want is an old fashioned aerial. And so, it seems, do others…

The retro-styled LG Serie 1 television (only available in Korea) doesn’t just look like an old set, it actually uses old CRT technology, including an old-fashioned 4:3 aspect ratio cathode ray tube. The set has a 14-inch diagonal screen, complete with rabbit-ear antennae and detachable chrome legs, as well as old-school knobs for changing channels and adjusting volume. However, it also features a modern digital tuner, composite video input and a wireless remote for contemporary couch potatoes…and you can choose from colour, black and white, or sepia picture settings.

More often than not, vintage television sets are now referred to as ‘iconic’. In fact, Mike Bennett is in the process of setting up the South West England Vintage Television Museum at Beaford in Devon. In case you want to reminisce, many of the exhibits can already be seen online at the

So, what did I miss on TV?

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About Author Profile: Susan Muncey

Trend consultant Susan Muncey, is Editor of Visuology Magazine. In 2008, she founded online curiosity shop, She writes on style and trends for several blogs, including, and The Dabbler. She previously owned cult West London boutique, Fashion Gallery, one of the first concept stores in the world. Susan graduated in geography from Cambridge University and is also an Associate Member of the CFA Institute. She lives in London with her husband.

15 thoughts on “Advantages of Analogue: Vintage Television Revisited

    January 7, 2012 at 11:21

    Plus, it would seem, ça change, plus ça ne change at all. Especially in the context of your ShopCurious post. Or is it that faced with a grim present we’re turning Gatsby, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

    For us old farts, of course, some of this stuff is simply what we grew up with (at least after my parents abandoned their resistance to TV in 1961) – and were delighted to replace with something more efficient.

    As regards iconic, you might enjoy this:

    • January 7, 2012 at 14:29

      F Scott Fitzgerald, now there’s an icon! Unlike “footballers whose narcissistic celebrations when they score a goal invite the question: why don’t they just masturbate?” Thanks for the link, Jonathon!

      And forget efficiency – part of the whole nostalgia trend is that imperfect is the new perfect: I still have fond memories of the fuzzy test card and was totally captivated by the broadcast in Welsh before Watch with Mother (Andy Pandy was often accompanied by curious fizzing sounds, high pitched whines and, occasionally, Andy, Teddy and all his friends magically shrank away, leaving just a small white spot on the screen).

        January 8, 2012 at 18:34

        ‘Watch With Mother’. That’s it really. All generational, as I find most things these days. I was ‘Listen with Mother’ and Children’s Favourites’ (e.g. ‘The Laughing Policeman’) and Children’s Hour (e.g. Uncle Mac) and we watched the Coronation in my paternal grandparents’ house with the curtains closed and I was five and pretty bored to be honest and the best thing was the natural break or whatever it was called which featured a film of a factory chimney being blown up and then reversed so it grew again. Anything but the potter’s wheel, I say, and the hell with the Freudian after-effects.

          January 8, 2012 at 20:38

          Doesn’t have to be generational though, Jonathon. What we are just beginning to grasp is the concept of timeless quality as opposed to faddish novelty. For instance, a comment on the ShopCurious Facebook page reads: “I have made my 70 year old mom keep her old analogue phone as everyone has digital phones that need elec to make them work. If your electicity goes out..u cant charge your mobile…but you CAN still plug in your analogue landline phone and make calls on it..I also keep one in a cupboard by the phone for such an emergency…so much for digital.”

          My young god-daughters found popping the bubble wrap inside their Christmas presents far more entertaining than any of the contents. Plus ca change…apart from the wrapping (but pray tell, how did you add that cedilla?)

          PS Loved the potter’s wheel myself (way before Alan Measles, though he’s curiously clever for a teddy bear).

            January 8, 2012 at 23:11

            Alt+0231 (I just did it – ça marche). But you need a standard keyboard; doesn’t work on a laptop (or you have to hold down an excess of keys to achieve it). And of course I am using a PC.

            The Pitiable Impossibility… is a very satisfying concept and all too true, though I own to a certain self-discipline when it isn’t something I really must have (e.g. a grotesquely over-priced first edn of a 19th century slang dictionary), and I fear that I’m wholly able to restrain myself as regards Mr Perry.

    January 7, 2012 at 11:28

    Happy new year Susan.

    The ye olde tv’s, once considered the cats whiskers and as many of them were only one step removed from the days of tuning by moggy nose hair, somewhat appropriate. It was all the fault of Madge of course, and the archbishop. For her coronation everyone and their aunt Maud had to have one, this was the beginning of the BBCs subliminal brainwashing of the license payer.
    Worked with a man, near retirement in the mid sixties, had been John Logie Baird’s student, gofor and shoulder-to-cry-on, asked what it was like he replied that Baird was driving the wrong way up a one way street, his contraptions were electrical-mechanical, Jules Verne like in appearance and doomed, JLB seemed not only unable to read a balance sheet but was also unaware of its existence. The name carried on for a while, as badge engineering.

    We in the borders are the first recipients of the de-analogueisation of the ether, as one wry local pointed out “the guinea pigs for Thatcher’s tax and Brown’s tricks” Considering the volume of unadulterated twaddle emanating from the frontal area of the devilish devices a coup de grace would have served us better.

      John Halliwell
      January 7, 2012 at 17:53

      ‘It was all the fault of Madge of course, and the archbishop. For her coronation everyone and their aunt Maud had to have one.’ Well, Malty, on our estate of five avenues there were no more than six sets. Eight of us kids, all anxious to be part of a momentous event, attempted to watch the Coronation by peering through Mrs Finn’s thick privet – a difficult task at the best of times, then on through her bay window; quickly re-focusing – through her net curtain; then, by standing on tip-toe, and travelling over the seated Mr Finn’s bald head, finally arrived at the 12 inch screen with eye balls popping and our sense of a great historic moment in tatters. The best part of the day was the street party and a bowl of Mrs Moore’s raspberry jelly. The rest is a blur.

  3. Gaw
    January 7, 2012 at 11:53

    The only way we can get a decent digital tv or radio signal is via cable. Digital radios only work when they’re in exactly the right place (which keeps changing) and when you’re not standing near them. The digital tv is mostly snow and white noise. We live in central London. Bizarre.

    January 7, 2012 at 14:08

    I wouldn’t give up my Vigin Plus recording apparatus for anything now, I hardly ever watch telly live any more, but digital radio does remain a dismal failure. As Nige has pointed out, the thing with radio is that people don’t want a multiplicity of channels, they tend to listen to one channel all day and take the radio round the house with them. Digital allows you to receive lots of channels you don’t want, but only in one corner of one room of the house. If you’re lucky.

    As to what you missed on telly over Xmas, Sherlock was very good and unusually witty. There was a good line where Watson bemoaned Mycroft’s “stupid, pointless power complex’ and then we immediately cut away to Battersea Power Station.

  5. January 7, 2012 at 14:59

    Reading your comment, Malty, I felt compelled to Google the Ally Pally and here’s what it says on Wikipedia: “The Alexandra Palace television station was located on the site and its iconic (Jonathon!) radio tower is still in use. The original Studios A and B still survive in the south-east wing with their producers’ galleries and are currently used for exhibiting original historical television equipment. Occasional demonstrations on the original 405-line VHF standard may also be transmitted from the tower in future.[citation needed]” Back into the past indeed… with unadulterated twaddle ad infinitum.

    Gaw, you’re obviously in the wrong (or right) part of London depending on your viewing habits. I’m sure this could be turned into a selling point by your local estate agent.

    The trick is to have a radio in every room (and bathroom), Brit. On the live thing, I just purchased a new radio called Pure One Classic. It has a ‘listen later’ button, though I haven’t worked out how to use it yet (and no doubt it will truncate the recorded programme at a vital moment when the memory runs out). I got it because it’s FM as well as Digital – I like to discover curious new stations… but some are now only available on the internet, so difficult to find at all.

    ian russell
    January 7, 2012 at 16:18

    That Korean set looks as if it’d be happy on a blanket in a basket beside a bowl of Kibbles. Could it be trained to fetch the remote control?

    A fond memory of mine is the monthly visit of the now extinct TV Repairman. Watching him work and seeing inside the back of the box could be as interesting as anything on the telly. And there was a distinct smell about them – old TVs, I mean, not repairmen. Hot valves, I expect.

    Now it’s a trip to the dump and an order to Amazon.

    January 7, 2012 at 17:00

    I have a roberts digital radio like this one and it works everywhere in my house! Best bit is that it’s solar powered so you just leave it on the kitchen windowsill and it charges up

    of course for a retro tv that is a design classic, you need look no further than Dieter Ram’s rather stylish TV for Braun

    January 7, 2012 at 17:24

    O Susan, thank you for stirring the memory – you have made an old man very happy. I was almost seven when Dr Fisher lowered the crown, and we all trooped over to Mr Harris the butcher’s house to watch it as, strangely, he was the only person in our street who had a set. My dad was a civil engineer, and the two women of the house both worked but, thinking back, we obviously couldn’t afford a set – but the butcher could. I think he drove a Humber Super Snipe or Hawk; we had a Morris 8.
    Anyroadup – a few weeks later I remember a set being delivered with much pomp from the local TV Repair shop (a 14″ Ekco T231) and only now I realize that the humiliation of watching the Coronation in the butcher’s front room must have pushed my mother over the edge. She had sold all my Dinky Toys (some still in their little yellow boxes) to the spiv bank manager in the green suit who patted my head every time he saw me, and he probably sold them on at a huge profit as he didn’t look capable of fathering children, or even making a woman happy…..

    • Brit
      January 8, 2012 at 22:31

      I can just see you glowering under the spiv’s head-pat…

    January 8, 2012 at 14:52

    Ian, I remember that acrid, burning smell – and agree that the TV repairman’s visits were fascinating… ours was a black man (still a rarity outside London in those days) who wore a white coat, like a doctor, and spoke with a perfect RP accent.

    Not sure what your local repair shop was called, Mahlerman, but I stumbled upon this Remembering Rediffusion website.

    Worm, I’m surprised you can get a signal where you are…

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